[OS X TeX] Who should use (La)TeX - who is able to use it?

Chris Goedde goedde at cascade.phy.depaul.edu
Tue Nov 16 16:05:09 EST 2004

> (4) It seems to me that a version of, say TeXshop, complete with the 
> packages necessary for, say, Calculus I and II, and a "G-installer" and 
> with a Word like interface would be a winner. OK, so the output may not 
> be optimal, OK, so there would be a lot of mathematics, beginning with 
> matrices that couldn't be written etc. So what? Anyone wanting to do 
> that sort of things would then turn to the regular TeXshop. But, I have 
> noticed already on this list a number of people who do not seem to be 
> concerned with mathematical typography anyway.

While I think it would be possible to make the sort of GUI
front end you are advocating, I don't think it would be as
simple or as useful as you think.  TeX very clearly
separates content from formatting.  In a typical GUI, the
separation between these two is much less clear. This has
important consequences for usability.

An example.  You have two documents, one set in Lucida, one
in Computer Modern.  You copy and paste a paragraph from the
first into the second.  What font should it appear in?  In
TeX, the answer is obvious.  Unless the formatting is
explicitly included, the text will appear in Computer
Modern.  In a GUI, the answer is not so obvious.  (In fact,
Word does the opposite---the formatting is copied along with
the text.)  Now extend this to all the other possible
formattings:  font size, margins, indentation, linespacing,
inter-paragraph spacing, etc. Either your GUI will behave
very differently from standard word processors, or it's behavior
will be very different from a typical TeX document, and it's
TeX output will strike many people as very strange.

Chris Goedde

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